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Friday, December 3, 2010

Nightjars of the World - Book Review

 There's nothing more serene to me than that of a whip-poor-will call on a quiet summer evening. It’s one of my favorite night sounds. While not frequently seen, the whip-poor-will makes itself known through its loud calling at dusk during various times of the year, especially in rural areas across the eastern half of the United States.

Whip-poor-will:

Whippoorwill  
These birds belong to a nocturnal group mostly known as Nightjars; which brings me to the subject of this post:

 Nightjars

I was fortunate this summer to receive a review copy of the book Nightjars, Potoos, Frogmouths, Oilbird, and Owlet-nightjars of the World by Nigel Cleere, and published by Princeton University Press. Right off the bat I was drawn to this book, not because it was just another bird book, but a book about a class of unique, secretive birds that many don’t ever get to see or experience.  It's the ultimate identification guide to the nightjars, potoos, frogmouths, oilbird, and owlet-nightjars of the world. It covers all 135 known species of these elusive and cryptically plumaged birds with more than 580 colored photographs. The quality of the book and photographs within it are outstanding. I'm not aware of any other book out today that has pulled together and captured these birds in such a magnificent way.

Lyre-tailed Nightjar:

Lyre-tailed Nightjar 
No, you won’t see these birds at your feeders, but there’s a good chance you could here there evening call or possibly flush one from its day-time resting place on a hike through the woods.

Many of these birds are rare or common in other parts of the world such as South America, Africa and Australia. Some of the more common nightjars that may be heard or encountered here in the the United States are the Whip-poor-will, Chuck-will's-widow, Common Nighthawk and the Common Poorwill (west).

Many are so unique they look more like something that should be part of a Harry Potter movie.

...like this Indochinese Frogmouth.

IndochineseFrogmouth 
...or these various nightjars shown below.

various

Serious and intermediate birders alike will find this book fascinating - great photography and easy reading that includes colored maps tailored to each species.

I highly recommend this guide / reference book to add to your collection. It would also make a wonderful Christmas gift to anyone interested in birds.

3 comments:

dAwN said...

Oh How I would love to see that Frogmouth..so cool!
As for the Whip-poor will ..OMGoodness..we get our fill of it in the springtime when we visit my sister in North Carolina..It does its little circut daily...starts calling in the distant woods..come to her front porch area for moths..then ontop of the house..and off again..until 5 the next morning..when it proceeds to call nonstop from the roof of her home..above our bedroom window...
What a wake up call!
Happy Birding!
Cool Book!

April Lorier said...

That frogmouth is a trip! Even his posture is frog-like! Hey! Here's an idea: pick out an artist you know and ask him to paint it! :-D

Did you get my Thanksgiving card?

Angie said...

Fascinating is right! I'd love to see that frogmouth! Very cool! I'd also love to get my hands on a copy of that book. That's great you were able to get an advance copy!